Thursday, December 3, 2009

Afshin Gaffarian exiled in Paris, a new life for a young Iranian actor and dancer.

I wrote some months ago about Afshin and his Blog, The holy actor, a rare but interesting case of a Grotowskian actor in Iran, and today I've just seen a note by AFP that he is now exiled in Paris a cause of some political problems during the aftermaths of the Iranian election and taking advantage of a tour his company was having in Germany.

My idea was to write again about him and his work after some reasonable time to see how he was developing his career but this news changed everything. Here the full note (he published in his Blog):

PARIS, Nov 27, 2009 (AFP)
- "Freedom for Iran!" With these defiant wordsIranian dancer Afshin Ghaffarian ended a public performance and began a newlife as an exiled dissident in Europe.
The 23-year-old was arrested in Tehran after taking part in nationwideprotests triggered by the June re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which critics say was due to a rigged vote.
But to his amazement he and his modern dance company were allowed to travel to a theatre festival in mid-October in the German town of Muelheim afterpaying a security bond of around 10,000 euros (15,000 dollars).
Until the moment he got to the airport, Ghaffarian feared he would be stopped. But he and the rest of the company -- two actors, a musician and alighting technician -- were allowed fly out of Iran.
Iranian authorities, however, sent two official minders along with them to make sure they stayed in line.
The company gave two performances at the festival. It was at the end of the second that the dark-haired dancer decided to make his move.
"Freedom for Iran! Solidarity with the Iranian people! Where is my vote?" he shouted on stage, making the V for victory sign with one hand and with the other covering his mouth to denounce the gagging of Iran's opposition.
On the hand he raised into the air, he wore a green ribbon, a sign of support for the defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.
The declaration got an enthusiastic reception from the audience, whichincluded several local journalists, and in the ensuing confusion Ghaffarianmanaged to sneak away from his official escort.
About a week later he made his way to Paris with the help of a French friend of Iranian origin who works at the Comedie Francaise, France's national theatre, and who introduced him to the city's artistic community.
Ghaffarian said he has now has applied for political asylum in France and plans on continuing his career here.
"The 'Centre International de la Danse' is interested in him," said Xavier Samson, a public relations executive who has taken up Ghaffarian's cause,referring to a major state-funded dance institute.
Ghaffarian's current bright prospects are in stark contrast to the situation he faced just a few months ago in his native country.
He said he was arrested in Tehran when he, like tens of thousands of Iranians, took to the streets to protest against Ahmadinejad's victory. The protests led to a sometimes brutal crackdown. Ghaffarian said he wasdetained and beaten by the Basij volunteer Islamist militia. "They tied me up, they threw me in a vehicle, they blindfolded me," hesaid. "We were about 40 packed in this vehicle. It was so hot with the windows closed, we could hardly breathe."
"When they saw on my ID card that I was an actor in theatre, they laughed at me, they beat me more on my head, on my back," he said.
The Basiji stole his money and confiscated a small video camera with which he had filmed scenes of protestors being attacked by security forces, he said.
Then, after 10 hours, he and his fellow detainees were dumped on the side of a road dozens of kilometres away from the capital.
Ghaffarian said he is enjoying the freedom of life in Paris.
"I am going to give my first free performance on December 13," he said with a smile, adding that it will take place in the suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt. But he hasn't forgotten his friends and fellow protestors back home. Nor the other members of his dance company, who all went home after the German trip.
He keeps in touch with his Iranian friends via the social networking site Facebook and insists that the opposition movement is far from beaten.
"The green movement is still going on," he said.

Paris (AFP) / © 2009 AFP

Being and actor and dancer outside of Iran will bring him a World of opportunities for sure, but it will also change how we perceive his work now as an exiled artist. We'lll be attentive seeing what happens with him and what he can do in freedom and out of his culture, studying and working in France and developing other techniques and forming part of other schools; there will be no more surprise and contradiction about his technique and ideas in the experimental Paris and also he will have to face a big competition in any field chosen...

A new life for a young Iranian actor and dancer, no doubt about that.


  1. Thank you Gustavo for writing about me!
    I was working on experimental theater and now i'm living an experimental life...I'm always welcomed to the new experiences.

    Now,my art is my Weapon and as long as Dance is forbidden in my country and as long as i do dance and Theater,i will be in the path of protest as i had always been before with my art.
    There will be always a Surprise in our life.

  2. Now... à parler francais! Bonne chance, Afshin!


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